Petal power links ex-pat Brits

Wear a red rose to celebrate England's patron saint

Yvonne Kowal holds two roses to mark St. George’s Day.

When Yvonne Kowal moved to Canada from England a half-century ago, she was just 18 years old.

“I was young and stupid,” she says laughing.

The Gordon Head resident can still remember the overwhelming feeling of being far from home, away from family, friends and culture.

“I was lucky to have a friend to stay with, but what a lot of people don’t understand is that it’s important for you to have somebody to talk to.”

Today, she wants to help others immigrating to Canada from England deal with culture shock. She’s ready to answer their questions, and even laugh at their dry sarcasm.

“People look at you like you’ve hurt their feelings,” Kowal says about the sharp English wit that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Easing immigrants’ transition prompted, in part, the recent creation of the Victoria branch of the Royal Society of St. George. As well as welcoming British immigrants to Victoria, the group promotes the English language.

St. George is England’s patron saint, celebrated every April 23.

It’s the perfect time for English people to come together, share stories and wear a red rose in honour of St. George, Kowal said.

Members of the new Victoria group plan to meet with the society’s mid-Island branch for lunch in Duncan the following day, April 24 at 1 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

With 17 members so far, the new Victoria group aims to become a network for English people in the Capital Region wanting to connect at social functions.

“We wanted something closer to home.”

Annual membership in the St. George Society is $25, and everyone is welcome to join.

For further details about the society or the upcoming luncheon, please visit www.stgeorgebc.ca or call 250-477-8914.

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

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